Autonomous retail startup Sensei grabs £4.7M, plans UK expansion

Sensei Image credits: Sensei

Lisbon-based computer vision startup Sensei provides autonomous store technology to deliver ubiquitous check-out-free purchasing systems. In a recent development, the company just announced that it grabbed $6.5 million (nearly £4.7 million) in funding.

Expansion in the UK and Europe

The investment round was led by Seaya Ventures and Iberis Capital alongside participation from 200M Fund managed by BPF and existing investor LeadX Capital. This is the largest seed round secured by a Portuguese company to date. Also, it is the first European autonomous retail technology vendor to get funding. This brings the overall funding raised by the company to $7 million (nearly £5 million).

Sensei eyes to use the funding to scale its ability to expand R&D, meet increasing demand, speed up new store launches and rollout its solution to consolidate market leadership in Europe. These smart stores are a hot topic right now as Amazon Go was recently launched in the UK. Furthermore, it is actively eyeing to expand into the UK and European markets including France, Germany and Spain.

Vasco Portugal, Sensei’s CEO and Co-founder, said: “We’re thrilled to have secured this investment with new and existing investors, and have big ambitions to use it to change the way the world shops with autonomous stores. Sensei’s technology will help level the playing field for retailers to compete against digital giants such as Amazon. We aim to enhance the familiar and enjoyable customer shopping experience, making it seamless, convenient and safe.”

“We are very excited to have the opportunity to join the Sensei team in their journey to completely transform the way we shop at a physical store, and we are looking forward to supporting them through our experience of scaling high-growth international businesses. We are delighted to invest in a business that is part of the digitalisation of commerce, a trend that is currently clearly being accelerated,” said Aris Xenofontos, Principal at Seaya Ventures.

Luis Quaresma, Partner at Iberis Capital, added: “Sensei brings tremendous efficiencies and cost-savings to the retail industry, while providing a much needed seamless checkout experience for consumers. We are thrilled to back Sensei’s outstanding team and support them in accelerating the impressive momentum they have already achieved in such a short time.”

Deploys proprietary tech platform

Sensei was founded in 2017 by Vasco Portugal, Joana Rafael, Nuno Moutinho and Paulo Carreira. It deploys a proprietary technology platform, which uses a blend of cameras, sensors, and AI algorithms. It can automate stores, both new and existing, to provide a fast, convenient, and seamless shopping experience.

Sensei’s proprietary “computer vision-first” solution can retrofit easily in existing establishments and allows retailers to offer a seamless, pleasant, and more efficient shopping experience to their customers, which is completely check-out free. Retailers can manage their inventory in real-time and get access to unique data insights about their customers and how they interact with their store and products.

“Sensei’s vision is to be a worldwide leader in autonomous retail, empowering all retailers to make shopping in-store seamless, pleasant and more efficient”, added Joana Rafael, Sensei’s COO and Co-Founder.

Sensei works with all sizes of grocery, convenience, grab-and-go stores, forecourts, and other retail formats. Also, it highlights that the pandemic has been a catalyst for contactless payments, and demand for touch-free retail technology will surge in Europe anytime soon.